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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    CHINESE    CHARACTER              6l

and a certain amount of real envy from the modern man. The
modern man finds himself in continual perplexity in regard to
many problems, and most of all in problems that affect closely
his personal life. He cannot spare himself a certain luxurious
envy for that ascetic ideal of Diogenes, and is at the same time
far from willing to miss a really good show or movie. That
gives us the so-called "restlessness95 of the modern spirit.

The Chinese, without going so far as Diogenes, for the
Chinese never go far in anything, take the negative approach
to happiness through their philosophy of contentment. Unlike
Diogenes, however, a Chinese man wants quite a few things.
But he wants only the things that make for happiness,
and at the same time does not insist on having them if
they are out of his reach. He wants at least a pair of
clean shirts, for Diogenes in the story book may exhale
a certain spiritual fragrance^ but Diogenes as a bedfellow
would be a different story. But if he is extremely poor and can
have only one shirt, he will not mind, either. And unlike
Diogenes, he wants also a good show, and he would give him-
self up to the full enjoyment of it. But if he must go without that,
he will not be too sorry. He wants some tall old trees in his
neighbourhood, but if he cannot have them, a date-tree in
his yard will give him just as much happiness. He wants
many children, and a wife who personally prepares his favourite
dishes; and if he is wealthy, then a good cook, too, and a
pretty maidservant in red pyjamas to tend the incense while
he is reading or painting. He wants some good friends, and a
woman who understands, preferably to be found in the person
of his wife; if not, then in one of the sing-song girls. If he is not
born with such "voluptuous luck," then he will not be sorry,
either. He wants a filled stomach, but congee and pickled
carrots are not so costly in China; and he wants a good jug of
wine, but rice-wine is often home-brewed, or he can pay only
a few cash for a bowl at the good old wine-shops. He wants
leisure, and leisure he can have in China, and he is as happy as
a bird if he

Has met a monk in a bamboo-covered yard
And enjoyed another of life's leisurely half-days.